The University Record, February 8, 1993

Congressional leaders are supportive

At a Washington press conference that announced the financial aid recommendations, Sen. James M. Jeffords, R-Vt., ranking minority member of the Senate’s Labor and Human Resources Committee and author of the legislation creating the commission, characterized the report as a “bold and compelling document” that, if implemented, “would result in major changes in the way families and students approach paying for higher education.”

He hailed the STEP program as a “revolutionary idea” that would be “relatively easy to implement because it depends on programs already in existence.”

Sen. Claiborne Pell, D-R.I., chair of the Senate Education, Arts and Humanities Subcommittee, noted that the report’s findings document “the tragedy of the 1980s ... when federal support for financing higher education failed to keep pace with costs ... and the gap between rich and poor expanded, even as scientific and technological progress advanced.”

Rep. William D. Ford, D-Mich., chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, called the report impressive, noting that the bipartisan commission “is supporting and reinforcing the directions in federal student financial assistance that I’ve been calling for.”

Rep. Thomas E. Petri, R-Wisc., applauded the multi-billion dollar savings to be gained through the report’s direct loan proposal.

“It’s one thing to spend more money to solve a problem,” he commented. “We do that a lot around here. But it’s a rare thing to actually find a better way to do things that ends up saving the taxpayer money.”

“This report provides hope for someone who gets a [college] acceptance letter, gets all excited, and then realizes that they aren’t able to enroll because they can’t afford it,” commented Rep. Robert E. Andrews, D-N.J., a member of the House Postsecondary Education Subcommittee and a leading proponent of direct lending.

In response to comments about the cost of the panel’s recommendations, Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., said, “the question is not whether we have the resources but whether we are going to make [higher education] a priority.”